Cell Phones

'internet stick' USB LTE modems with data plan

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 13th, 2020 5:02 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Feb 17, 2017
75 posts
18 upvotes

'internet stick' USB LTE modems with data plan

Are there any good solutions for a USB LTE modem with a data-only plan? This is for remote laptop work while in the car.
13 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 14, 2003
4636 posts
2905 upvotes
LaLaLand
They still make those? I usually just tether to my phone.

I know of this device but I've never tried it,

https://www.skyroam.com/

The Fido 4GB data plan is the best value.
Jr. Member
May 31, 2011
134 posts
71 upvotes
Ontario
batcave wrote: They still make those? I usually just tether to my phone.

The Fido 4GB data plan is the best value.
That's what I thought too.. Unless it's for home, then I would get an LTE router where you would just insert your sim card. But I don't think they are that popular now as internet is more easily accessible everywhere.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 27, 2004
13195 posts
2432 upvotes
Vancouver.bc.ca
Look for a notebook that is WWAN capable. ThinkPad T series come to mind.
Deal Addict
Oct 27, 2016
1088 posts
605 upvotes
GTA
This is my home made contraption. Its my backup internet in case the main cable internet goes down.

Old dual sim phone running android 8.1
Old TPLINK wireless N router running openwrt

dual sim phone contains 2 data only plan (4gb at 5$each) and it tethers to the router via usb.
Images
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cheap phone bill = Public Mobile 13$ + 3GB data only eSIM plan 0$ + Google Pixel 3a XL
Jr. Member
May 31, 2011
134 posts
71 upvotes
Ontario
cool setup! what was your config like on the openwrt? how did you configure the usb port as default route?
Deal Addict
Sep 14, 2012
1590 posts
1124 upvotes
Montreal, QC
zorg001 wrote: Are there any good solutions for a USB LTE modem with a data-only plan? This is for remote laptop work while in the car.
I use to use a Cradlepoint router which allowed me to plug in my USB Internet Stick to it (internet stick is plugged into the side of the Cradlepoint router in the picture). It was AC powered so I kept it plugged in at home where for ~9 hours per day on every weekday (while I was at work or commuting to/from work), it wasn't being used to its full potential.
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However, when I realized that I wanted a portable solution, I opted to purchase portable hotspots which I've been doing for the last ~4 years and the hotspot that I currently use is the Netgear Nighthawk M1
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Deal Addict
Nov 30, 2016
1153 posts
1517 upvotes
Waterloo Region
lmcjipo wrote:
... the hotspot that I currently use is the Netgear Nighthawk M1
Seems pretty expensive. This dongle on amazon costs less than $50
Deal Addict
Sep 14, 2012
1590 posts
1124 upvotes
Montreal, QC
Gangsta101 wrote: Seems pretty expensive. This dongle on amazon costs less than $50
I bought it when it was on special. That being said, a dongle can only be used in one device at a time unless you're plugging it into a 3G/4G/LTE router (like what I was using previously with my CradlePoint router). I was using the Nokia dongle from Fido as a dongle to plug into my computer directly as well as plug it into my cellular CradlePoint router. Prior to using the Nokia dongle, I was using a Novatel 3G Wireless Ovation dongle and before that I used a PCMCIA 3G card for my laptop back then... and before that, I was using my data SIM in an EDGE/GPRS cellphone.

Also, the Netgear Nighthawk M1 is transportable/portable as well as battery operated if required so I can use it where there is no electrical outlets. I can also remove the battery if I decide to power it solely on AC power using the supplied USB-C charging/power cable and I can connect multiple wireless device to it in order to access the internet. I can use my wireless devices anywhere and have access to the internet whether I'm taking public transit or whether I'm at a restaurant/store.

Not only that but a wireless dongle requires that the manufacturer provides the drivers in order to use it whereas a hotspot doesn't require any third-party drivers. Once the manufacturer doesn't supply the drivers for an updated operating system, the dongle is all but worthless except in an older computer. Not only that but most wireless dongles use the the full sized USB port some laptops/netbooks don't come with the port and only have USB-C ports.

These are all the reasons why I switched from using a dongle to using hotspots. The issues with my older hotspots were that when using them for a prolonged period of time continuously (like all day), they needed not only to have the battery in the unit (for my small Netgear hotspot which had a removeable battery) but needed to be plugged in so as not to drain the battery inside the unit (like in the ZTE hotspot which didn't have a user removeable battery). Keeping a device with a rechargeable battery plugged in for most of the day can cause not only the battery to lose efficiency but can also cause the battery to bulge/expand due to overcharging.
Deal Addict
Sep 14, 2012
1590 posts
1124 upvotes
Montreal, QC
Gangsta101 wrote: Seems pretty expensive. This dongle on amazon costs less than $50
Didn't realize that what you were referencing is a hotspot and it is less expensive than the Netgear Nighthawk M1 that I purchased but the benefits of the Netgear Nighthawk M1 unit over the unit that you recommended are:

1) Netgear unit has a user removeable battery
2) Netgear unit will work on AC power without needing to charge the battery at the same time
3) Netgear unit can be used as a USB charger (it has a USB port which you can use to charge your cellphone or any device that can be recharged by USB)
4) Netgear unit has a long lasting battery (powered on with its battery and watching YouTube videos, streaming Netflix, and browsing the internet, the hotspot will last ~16 hours during my testing
5) It is made by a well-known company which makes routers, switches, and other computer connectivity equipment as opposed to a company that most people haven't heard of.
6) You can plug a USB drive with movies and devices that connect to the Netgear router can stream the movies
7) The Netgear firmware has many useful/configurable options found in most home routers
8) Netgear unit has 2 WiFi bands (2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz) that can be configured separately with different WiFi passwords
9) Netgear unit has data offloading
10) Netgear unit has an ethernet port
... and the list goes on

Whether is is worth the extra ~$250 that someone can find the Netgear Nighthawk M1 when it is on sale is up to the person to decide but for me, I find that it is worth the price that I purchased it for when it was on sale (although I wouldn't pay the $600 that it is currently being sold for by NewEgg.ca)
Last edited by lmcjipo on Nov 14th, 2020 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Jan 31, 2007
3643 posts
849 upvotes
ryanrudolf wrote: This is my home made contraption. Its my backup internet in case the main cable internet goes down.

Old dual sim phone running android 8.1
Old TPLINK wireless N router running openwrt

dual sim phone contains 2 data only plan (4gb at 5$each) and it tethers to the router via usb.
How did you get the 4G for $5? so damn cheap!
Deal Addict
Nov 30, 2016
1153 posts
1517 upvotes
Waterloo Region
lmcjipo wrote: ...
Whether is is worth the extra ~$250 that someone can find the Netgear Nighthawk M1 when it is on sale is up to the person to decide but for me, I find that it is worth the price that I purchased it for when it was on sale (although I wouldn't pay the $600 that it is currently being sold for by NewEgg.ca)
I wasn't knocking the Netgear, it is quite a device, especially at the price you said you got it for. I was only surprised that OP didn't search amazon.ca for options like the one I listed.

I do know that LTE devices (phone or hotspot) have to have the right bands else they'll be functionally useless in North America, and this one seems to tick all the right basic check boxes.

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